Alumni Happenings: Urban Planning, Auto Manufacturing, and the White House

We like to know what our alumni have been up to because they inspire us in everything we do. What have you been up to lately? Do you have any new adventures planned? Articles you have published? Let us know and maybe we’ll feature you in our next alumni happenings blog post.

1. Muskie alumna leverages Google Street View to increase accessibility in Ukraine

In many international exchange circles, we talk about the impact of programs when participants return home. But this Muskie alumna isn’t waiting until she heads back to the Ukraine. Using a computer at the University of Kansas, Gala Korniyenko virtually tours her Ukrainian hometown of Cherkasy to identify accessibility and safety issues such as potholes, curbs without ramps, and broken sidewalks. “She hopes to use her research and new technologies to improve the accessibility of Ukrainian cities and make them safer, even before she returns home.”

Read more in the article, Urban Ukraine.

2. Denis McDonough, Bosch alumnus, is Obama’s favorite chief of staff

“The president has cycled through more chiefs of staff than any of this White House Predecessors. Denis McDonough is the one who came to stay,” writes Glenn Thrush in his January Politico Mag Profile. Denis just also happens to be an alumnus of the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program. He also just joined Twitter.


3. Karoun Demirjian, Alfa alumna, speaks about U.S. Visa Waiver Program with PBS NewsHour

The U.S. Visa Waiver Program allows visitors to the United States from 38 countries to enter and visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa.  With recent measures tightening the program in the wake of terror attacks,  Karoun Demirjian, Alfa alumna and Washington Post Reporter, joins PBS NewsHour to discuss these new security measures.


4. Chris Miller, Alfa alumnus, discusses “Why the Baltics?”

In the inaugural edition of the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s new Baltic Bulletin, which consists of analytical reports on the Baltic states and their role in European security, Chris Miller answers the question: “Why the Baltics?” The article was also published in the Eurasia Review, a Eurasian review journal and think tank.


5. Steven Choi, IntegrationXchange alumnus, celebrates expansion of language access services in NYC

Standing beside Chancellor Farina as she announced the new expansion of language access services across New York City, Steven Choi, who took part in our IntegrationXchange program in 2008, was there to share his excitement and pride in the work accomplished. “Today marks a huge victory for New York immigrant communities and for the NYIC’s Education Collaborative, whose members have worked tirelessly over the last year to ensure that access to competent translation services is provided in all New York City public schools,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.


6. Bosch alumnus, Kevin Czinger, may revolutionize auto manufacturing

As the former CEO and co-founder of Coda Automotive, Kevin Czinger’s new venture, Divergent 3D, is making waves in the auto industry—green waves to be exact. Check out the article on Treehugger to learn more about how this new tech could reduce the amount of pollution, the cost of the vehicle, and the number of materials needed, all with 3D-printing and micro-factories.


7. Kevin Witte, an AYLP and YSEALI Leader Mentor alumnus, featured in National Geographic educator spotlight

As a two-time alumnus of programs funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Cultural Vistas (American Youth Leadership Program and Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative), it comes at no surprise that Kevin Witte was recently featured in the National Geographic Educator Spotlight: Unlocking European Geography.

In this spotlight, Kevin and his colleague, Amber Lewis, discuss their work at Kearney High School and how they use National Geographic education tools, MapMaker Mega Map and MapMaker Interactive, to guide a learning activity on European geography.


8. Cornelia Gräf, J-1 alumna, published a book about her New York City internship experience

After an exciting and impactful experience on a Train USA J-1 internship in New York City at the German Center for Research and Innovation, Cornelia Gräf didn’t just go home and tell her family and friends about her experience. Instead, she decided to write a book (!!) about her incredible adventure.



If you are a member the alumni of a program administered by Cultural Vistas and are interested in sharing your story, or connecting with current and former colleagues,  please post in the comments below or email We also encourage you to update your contact information so that we can keep in touch and inform you of regional alumni events and other opportunities.